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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Living a free life

As an individual grows up, he becomes a free person in his own right, begins to rule his life, makes his own life decisions, and becomes independent. He is the sole guardian of his best interests, his own self-protector, and the sole maker of his decisions. This alone makes him responsible for his actions. It is not a huge price to pay considering the ownership rights of your body, mind and soul that come with it for a lifetime! To govern oneself, be one’s own ruler, is to be free in its real sense. This is how children are distinguished from adults, and the latter considered responsible for their behaviour. Guardianship, paternalism, protectionism, coming from outside, remove this distinction, and reduce adults to a child-like state. The strongest blow that can be delivered to an individual is to consider him or her unfit for freedom, and put them under some form of guardianship or paternalism, undermining their free nature, returning them into...
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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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Happiness is a side effect

Happiness appears to be the most sought after commodity other than money, and the contest between the two is nearly settled by the saying, ‘money can’t buy happiness,’ although being happy too can’t get you money by itself. That everyone wants to be happy is a universally accepted fact. Why would anyone want to be sad or suffer? Does this mean we are some kind of pleasure-driven, biologically programmed machines seeking happiness all the time? No one appears to have ever felt ‘hungry’ for happiness, felt an urge to be happy, or suffered when deprived of its pleasurable aspects. One may desire more money, more pleasure, more success, or more power, but never has anyone reported to want more of happiness after once being happy, or as suffering for want of it. Nor did religion ever spoke of happiness as a virtue, laying stress instead on denial of pleasure. How then does happiness enter into the scheme of our life, to the...
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Life is like a gift

Children know there is something called death. They see it happen around them, but do not see it happening to them. They know they will die if they were to drown, or fall down from a certain height, but do not see it as inevitable. It is probably a function of time that as we age, as we come closer to death, the very thought of one day being dead and gone comes as a mild shock. No one can claim to have come to the world with a right to live forever. Life was not bestowed on us as a natural right, and death when it comes naturally is not therefore unfair. Is there a healthier way of conceiving the force of life is us, whose presence for a long time within us makes us its slave, such that the very thought of its absence fills us with grief? If we see our existence as a gift that would one day...
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